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A message from the
The ACT Education Directorate is committed to delivering
educational services that will empower students to learn for life,
through equity, diversity, collaboration and partnerships.
The Directorate recognises the importance of school libraries in
enriching the learning environment of all of our students and the
wider school community to deliver our goals as outlined in the
Directorate’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021.
Thriving school libraries, facilitated by teacher librarians and library
staff, support the delivery of the academic and social curriculum
at a student, classroom and school level. Physical and virtual
library spaces are inclusive and welcoming, encouraging students
and teachers to connect with one another for both learning or
Teacher librarians, with assistance and support from library staff,
provide specialist expertise in literature, information literacy and
digital literacy, as well as maintaining a current and relevant library
The School Libraries: The Heart of 21st Century Learning provides
principals and school communities with a best practice guide in:
• setting up a school library that is a vibrant and welcoming space,
• developing a culture of collaboration in learning between the
  teacher librarian and teachers in the school that benefit positive
  student outcomes,
• encouraging students to consume and create knowledge that is
  robust, with honesty and integrity at heart,
• fostering the “third space” concept of the library as a safe and
  respectful environment that supports students to thrive in the
• providing both print and electronic resourcing to all staff, students
  and the wider school community,
• ensuring cultural diversity in the resources curated and circulated
  across the school, and
• building information and digital literacy skills.

I encourage our schools to refer to the School Libraries: The Heart
of 21st Century Learning as a best practice guide in ensuring our
school libraries and teacher librarians continue to support our
students to be discerning users and creators of knowledge.

Meg Brighton

                                            SCHOOL LIBRARIES           1
School Libraries: the Heart of                                                  Teacher librarians
21st Century Learning                                                               enhance digital
                                                                                   and information
Thriving school libraries led by qualified teacher librarians develop       literacy, resource the
21st century citizens who can locate, evaluate and use information           curriculum and help
effectively. International and domestic data abounds which confirms               students become
that a qualified teacher librarian improves student learning outcomes        critical, creative and
(including higher NAPLAN scores) regardless of students’ socioeconomic     collaborative thinkers.
status (see reference list). When teaching and learning is transformed
by the digital revolution, teacher librarians enhance digital and
information literacy, resource the curriculum and help students become
critical, creative and collaborative thinkers.

When looking toward the future, expect to see...
• co-teaching of teacher librarians with classroom teachers (not just
  parallel teaching or supportive assistance)
• the library program impacting self-directed learning, differentiation,
  and project-based learning
• the library as the centre of knowledge creation and knowledge
• libraries transform into learning commons
• a virtual learning commons accessible to everyone, at any place and
  on any device
• the impact of quality information on teaching, learning and student
  created products
• regular collaboration between technology directors and school
• social media as a platform for students to access information and use
  library learning commons
• the impact of makerspaces on various aspects of the library learning
(Adapted from Scholastic Library Publishing (2015), School Libraries

     Teacher librarians have played a leading role in the
      worldwide movement to integrate makerspaces
           with teaching and learning in schools.
       Makerspaces foster collaboration, creativity, problem
        solving and exploration through a STEAM (Science,
      Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) focus.
         Find out more about Makerspaces:

The Expert, The Collection and The                                        Working with a teacher
School Community                                                             librarian strengthens
                                                                           the skills of classroom
The Expert                                                                teachers and students.
Teacher librarians combine a command of 21st century pedagogies
and curricula with expertise in information science: the analysis,
collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement,
dissemination, and protection of information. Working with a
teacher librarian strengthens the skills of classroom teachers and
Finding information is not a problem in today’s world. The problem             Teacher librarians
is finding USEFUL and TRUSTWORTHY information QUICKLY. The                        have a holistic,
teacher librarian leads the school-wide effort to organise and utilise        ‘bird’s eye’ view of
information to make it valuable and accessible to staff and students.        your school and the
                                                                              particular resource
Working with all staff and all students, teacher librarians have a
                                                                                    needs of your
holistic, ‘bird’s eye’ view of your school and the particular resource
                                                                              students, staff and
needs of your students, staff and families.

       Where can I find out
        about biofuels?

                            How do I get my son
                           interested in reading?

          What resources are
          available to engage
         my students with this

Teachers, students and parents come to the teacher librarian
when they have a problem they cannot solve themselves. Teacher
librarians are trained to solve the hard problems. They make
resources accessible to your school community through the library
catalogue and other digital curation tools.

Supporting quality teaching and learning                                     SCHOOL LIBRARIES        3
Effective teacher librarians make quality teaching a reality across
an entire school. The services they provide and the resources they            The services teacher
access impact on every teacher and every student. International and         librarians provide and
Australian research has long shown that student learning outcomes                the resources they
and test scores increase with a qualified teacher librarian on staff       access impact on every
(see reference list). Teacher librarians also help collect, collate and          teacher and every
share assessment data across multiple curriculum areas and the                             student.
General Capabilities to assist with teaching and learning.
Teacher librarians collaborate across schools, sectors and systems.
They use social media and email listservs to connect with and build
professional relationships with experts in Australia and around the
world in a range of curriculum areas.

Qualifications matter
If, as a school leader, you are having difficulty recruiting a qualified
teacher librarian, this is an opportunity to build capacity in your
staff. Shoulder tap the teacher who thinks about the ‘big picture’,
who has an interest in emerging technologies and what they mean
for student learning, and who builds professional relationships with
everybody. As soon as they start their Masters degree, your teachers
and students will reap the rewards!

   • Graduate Diploma of Applied Science
     (Library and Information Management)
   • Graduate Diploma of Education
     (Teacher Librarianship)
   • Master of Applied Science
     (Library and Information Management)
   • Master of Applied Science
     (Teacher Librarianship)
   • Master of Education
     (Teacher Librarianship)
   • Master of Information Services
     (Teacher Librarian)

The Collection
                                                                              SCHOOL LIBRARIES        5
Contemporary teaching and learning resources
Teacher librarians use professional selection criteria to make           Teacher librarians use
resourcing choices that keep your library collection current and         professional networks
relevant to the curriculum and your school context. Teacher               to ensure your school
librarians are professional curators - they select only the most           maintains a position
useful resources for teaching and learning. This saves time for your     at the cutting edge of
teachers and your students. No more basic Google searches to             worldwide resourcing
‘recreate the wheel’ every semester.                                          and technological
Teacher librarians use the latest technologies to connect their
school community (teachers, school support staff, students and their
families) to quality resources. They establish and maintain links to
local, national and global education networks, ensuring your school
maintains a position at the cutting edge of worldwide resourcing and
technological trends.
                                                                              Teacher librarians
Targeting information to your student community                            carefully select and
Every school community is unique. Teacher librarians carefully select         organise physical
physical and digital resources to personalise your school’s collection    and digital resources
for your community. They engage in a constant process of evaluation         to personalise your
and critique of resources to ensure items that detract from a quality    school’s collection for
collection are weeded out. Teacher librarians know your collection             your community.
inside out and can quickly match a library user with the best resource
for a specific need.
Students feel validated when their life experiences are shown in
literature. The teacher librarian identifies and finds resources
to support and represent the diverse groups within the school
community.                                                               Teacher librarians help
                                                                          students and teachers
Mastering the digital environment
                                                                             to efficiently locate
A tsunami of information is available online. However, much of this       reliable, authoritative
content is:                                                                      and meaningful
• not free                                                                        resources in an
• not for children
• not to be believed without considered evaluation.
Teacher librarians help students and teachers navigate an
information-abundant world to efficiently locate reliable,
authoritative and meaningful resources. As experts in information
and communication technologies, they help students define, access,
manage, integrate, evaluate, create, and communicate ethically and
intelligently. These are skills that can seem easy, but in fact can be
quite difficult and should be explicitly taught.

The School Community

                                                                           SCHOOL LIBRARIES        7
Differentiation in Practice
Schools with a teacher librarian are quickly connected with                          Teacher librarians’
targeted, multimodal, differentiated resources for the diverse                   broad overview of the
learning interests and needs of your students, including those                      curriculum enables
with:                                                                                   them to provide
                                                                                targeted differentiation
• English as an additional language or dialect
                                                                                and resourcing support
• different cultural backgrounds, including Aboriginal and Torres                 to staff, students and
  Strait Islander peoples                                                                        parents
• giftedness
• learning difficulties
• disabilities
                                                                                 TEACHER LIBRARIANS
The support and counsel of teacher librarians greatly enhances                   PERSONALISE THEIR
classroom teachers’ capacity to skillfully embed the Australian                  SERVICES TO THE
Curriculum inquiry skills and General Capabilities into their                    NEEDS OF:
lessons. Teacher librarians are the information specialists who                  • the new and the
support teachers by collaborating to design tasks and team                         experienced teacher
teach lessons targeting the skills ‘just in time’ when they are most             • the keen and the
relevant to students.                                                              reluctant reader
                                                                                 • the skilled and the
                                                                                   overwhelmed learner
                                                                                 • individuals, teams,
                                                                                   and groups across the
                                                                                   school community

                                          Teacher librarians
                                         enhance classroom
                                         teachers’ capacity
           Teach                                                                Differentiate online
      age-appropriate                            to:
                                                                                resources according
     website evaluation                                                           to reading level

                              Teach smart                      Determine usage rights
                          searching strategies                 for images found online

                                           Find resources from
                                              search engines
                                            other than Google

                     Classroom teachers are then better equipped to
                   develop these lifelong learning skills with students.

Using metadata to make your collection appealing and
accessible                                                                 Teacher librarians
Metadata is information about the information you possess.              create personalised,
Teacher librarians know that personalised, effective metadata saves    effective metadata to
time and energy. When the library catalogue has quality metadata,     save time and energy.
teachers and students find what they need with one or two clicks.
When the metadata is poor, those same teachers and students
leave the library feeling frustrated and disappointed because they
cannot find what they need (even when it is actually there!)

Making School Libraries Work Takes Commitment
                                                                          School leaders and
Support from School Leaders is Critical to Success                          teacher librarians
                                                                            should negotiate
The effectiveness of school library programs depends a great deal
                                                                           sufficient time for
on the administrative support they receive. Recent research shows
                                                                      resource management
a strong relationship between student outcomes and the degree to
                                                                         to occur during the
which the principal values and supports the library media program
                                                                              working week.
(see reference list). Support for the role of school libraries and
qualified school library staff can take many shapes, some with low
or no cost that can be started immediately and others that might
require longer-term strategic planning and funding.

Resource management time
Resource management time is crucial for the teacher Iibrarian to
manage, facilitate and develop the library’s resources.
Resource management includes the following activities:
• Locating, selecting and ordering resources to support teaching
  and learning
• Employment of strategies to maximize access to print and
  electronic resources
• Original cataloguing (creating personalised, high-quality
• Collection analysis and weeding to ensure the library collection
  meets the needs of the school community
• Development and administration of resource budgets and
  reporting to school administration
• Development, documentation and review of library resource
  centre policies to reflect school and system priorities
• Day-to-day administration of the collection (when no library
  technician, assistant, or volunteer support is available). This
  includes loans, returns, losses, shelving, SCIS cataloguing, book
  covering, resource repairs

                                                                        SCHOOL LIBRARIES        9
Face-to-face teaching time
Teacher librarian face-to-face teaching includes time for student
contact and consultation in the library P5.1.2 (c) of the ACTPS
Education Directorate (Teaching Staff) Enterprise Agreement
2018-2022, p.106. The following types of activities constitute
teaching: lessons in the library; release programs; teaching
groups in co-operation with other teachers (eg. co-operative
planning and teaching); working with students and teachers
undertaking individual research or otherwise using library
resources. If the library is open before or after school with
the teacher librarian on duty, this counts towards the teacher
librarian’s face-to-face teaching hours.                                  Duty in the library
                                                                          during lunchtimes
Lunch breaks                                                              should be shared
Teacher librarians are entitled to a lunch break in the same         between all staff on the
manner as other teachers: ‘The minimum break over a school           playground duty roster.
day is 30 minutes, which is separate from normal release
time’ P1.6 of the ACTPS Education Directorate (Teaching
Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2018-2022, p.105. To ensure
teacher librarians access appropriate breaks, duty in the library
during lunchtimes should be shared between all staff on
the playground duty roster (and not default to the teacher

Relief Teaching
Effective teacher librarians positively impact the learning
outcomes of all students. Removing teacher librarians from
their teaching and administrative duties for the purpose of
relief teaching diminishes their ability to perform their role and
deliver the associated benefits to students and colleagues.

The role of library technicians and assistants
Teacher librarians can only operate at their highest level if
they are supported by library support staff. A well-run library           Schools that invest
requires work to be done at a variety of levels, and only when                  in well-staffed
the ongoing operational levels are taken care of can the                      school libraries
teacher librarian provide the full suite of library services.           reap the benefits of
                                                                        quality services and
21st Century Learning                                                  resourcing, ensuring
Students must become savvy information interpreters and              their staff and students
creators as well as critical, creative and collaborative thinkers     are best equipped for
if they are to meet the demands of a 21st century life. The                   the digital age.
research base strongly supports the role that teacher librarians
play in improving student learning outcomes and in building
the capacity of staff to teach essential 21st century skills.

                                                                        SCHOOL LIBRARIES      11
Research base for the impact of teacher librarians and school libraries
General Information
Australian School Library Association [ASLA]. (2012) What is a Teacher Librarian? Retrieved from
• The Australian School Library Association website is worth exploring for general information and research.
ASLA. (2012). ASLA Policies. Retrieved from
• Guided inquiry and the curriculum, Information literacy, Joint statement on school libraries and
  teacher librarians, School library funding, Standards and Teacher librarian qualifications are particularly
  worth a look.
ALIA website: Australian Library and Information Association. (n.d.). Careers in libraries and information science.
• A useful explanation of the various roles and qualifications for different library workers.
School Library Association of South Australia. (2008). The role of the teacher librarian. Retrieved from
• This is a brief, helpful breakdown of the different elements of being a teacher librarian.

‘At a Glance’ Information
American Association of School Librarians [AASL]. (2013). 100 Things Kids Will Miss If They Don’t Have a School
Librarian in Their School
• This poster covers both academic and socio-emotional benefits of having access to a teacher librarian. It was
  developed through a variety of sources including research conducted by the Partnerships Advancing Library Media
  (PALM) Center at Florida State University.
Library Research Service. (2013). School Libraries and Student Achievement. Retrieved from
• An infographic summarising research findings over the previous 20 years and identifying the school library
  characteristics associated with better test scores.

Research - Teacher librarians in the 21st century
Godfree, H. & Neilson, O. (2018). School Libraries Matter! The missing piece in the education puzzle. In
Access, 32(1), pp. 28-41. Retrieved from
• This article provides a discussion of Australia’s declining performance in national and international testing whilst the
  nation has simultaneously experienced a reduction in staffing levels of qualified teacher librarians. It examines the
  skills Australian students will need for the future and highlights how school library staff and services support these
  skills. The results of an ongoing study into library staffing levels in Australian Capital Territory (ACT) schools are
  shared and discussed.
Pennsylvania School Library Project [Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, Health Sciences Library Consortium
and Education Law Center of Pennsylvania]. (2012). Creating 21st-century learners: A report on Pennsylvania’s
public school libraries. Retrieved from
• This research looked at the impact that a full time, qualified teacher librarian has upon reading test scores and
  found that the significant positive impact is independent of socio-economic status, race/ethnicity and/or disability
  status. It also examines other factors such as collection size, access to digital resources and funding with regard to
  student achievement.
Hay, L. & Todd, R. (2010). A School Libraries Futures Project: School Libraries 21C. Retrieved from
• Commissioned by the School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit, Curriculum K-12 Directorate and NSW
  Department of Education and Training summarises an online discussion gathering information about the future of
  school libraries.

Australian research – Teacher librarians and student learning outcomes
Softlink. (2019). 2018 The Softlink Australia, New Zealand, and Asia-Pacific School Library Survey Report. Retrieved
• Now in its seventh year, this Australian survey (from last year) connects well-resourced libraries with higher student
  learning outcomes and higher NAPLAN scores. This aligns with the wealth of international data that supports this
Hughes et al. (2013). School libraries, teacher-librarians and literacy at Gold Coast schools: Research findings.
Synergy, 11(2). Retrieved from
• This article summarises a research study conducted in Australian schools on the Gold Coast and explores the
  contribution that school libraries and teacher librarians make to literacy development.
House Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). Inquiry into school libraries and teacher
librarians in Australian schools. Retrieved from
• This report summarises the recent federal inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians.
Merga, M. K. (2019). How do librarians in schools support struggling readers?. English in Education, 53(2), 145–
160. Retrieved from

International research – Teacher librarians and student learning outcomes
Lance, K. C. & Hofschire, L. (2012). Change in school librarian staffing liked with change in CSAP reading
performance, 2005 to 2011. Retrieved from
• This report from Colorado, USA, examines changes in standardised test scores of students over time as they are
  influenced by changes in levels of school library staffing (including the qualifications of the staff).
Pennsylvania State Board of Education. (2011). Pennsylvania school library study: Findings and
recommendations. Retrieved from
• This study confirms that qualified teacher librarians are associated with higher reading and writing test scores and
  also that this positive impact is independent of demographic and economic differences among students.
Francis, B. H., Lance, K. C., & Lietzau, Z. (2010). School librarians continue to help students achieve
standards: The third Colorado study (2010). Retrieved from
• This study of the impact of school libraries and librarians on student test performance provides evidence of the
  value of highly qualified librarians, especially at the primary school level. The study also documents not only the
  impact of school libraries and teacher librarians on how high or low students’ test scores are, it also examines their
  impact on low-performing as well as high-performing students in standardised tests - relevant to those concerned
  about closing the achievement gap between ‘have’ and ‘have not’ students.
Scholastic Library Publishing. (2015). School Libraries Work! A Compendium of Research Supporting the
Effectiveness of School Libraries, 2016 edition. Retrieved from
• This American publication summarises research findings of about ten years of school library-related research.
Todd, R. J. & Kuhlthau, C. C. (2005). Student learning through Ohio school libraries, Part 1: How effective
school libraries help students. Retrieved from
• This paper gives a summary of research into 39 school libraries in Ohio with students from years 3 to 12.
Todd, R. J. and Kuhlthau, C. C. (2005). Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries, Part 2: Faculty
Perceptions of Effective School Libraries. Retrieved from
• This paper focuses on the perceptions of school principals and teaching faculty in relation to the school library
  and the helps it provides to students. Set against a brief review of current literature, it examines data provided
  by 879 faculty in 39 elementary, middle and high schools of Ohio as part of the Student Learning through Ohio
  School Library research study.

                                                                                            SCHOOL LIBRARIES          13
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